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Patrick writes...

Gathering Diary - Day 1
Wednesday, August 4

I slept in a whole hour later than normal for a weekday, then dragged myself out of bed to get some last-minute errands run before it was time to leave for the airport. My morning rounds included a stop at the post office, to collect the last of the last-minute Gathering pre-registration payments, and a stop at the bank to deposit them and withdraw some cash that could be used to make change in Canada for fans who wanted to pay us in U.S. dollars. I had to visit two banks, because for some strange reason the first one didn't have any one dollar bills.

Back at home, I had enough time to finish packing and eat lunch before heading out to the airport. By the time I left, mostly cloudy had turned into steady rain, so the drive to the airport took a little longer than normal. Finding parking took forever, but inside the terminal there was barely a line at check-in or security. I checked two big bags crammed full of costume and con stuff, then headed to my gate at the far end of the airport. I got there with about a half hour to spare before boarding, but since the flight was departing out of Continental's regional terminal and not the international one, there was no duty-free shop that I could buy any gift booze at (sorry, Karine).

The flight itself was uneventful and only about half full. We landed at the Montreal airport ahead of schedule, then waited on the ground for about ten minutes for our gate to clear. Once off the plane, there was the usual fifteen-minute walk to customs, where the wait time was posted on the wall as 40 minutes. The long line that snaked back and forth between the velvet ropes was constantly moving, though, so that at least gave the illusion of progress. After a quick chat with the Canadian customs officer, I claimed my bags from where they were waiting by the carousel and went to get my rental car.

Airport renovations had claimed more of the arrivals area since my visit in February, including the rental car counter, so I headed straight out to the parking garage where a small mob of businessmen had convened around the Hertz office. I overheard the agent at the desk complaining that they were running out of cars and couldn't upgrade anyone to vans or luxury sedans, so I received several envious glances as I claimed the keys to the minivan I had reserved months before.

From the airport, it was off to Karine's house. I found my way to the freeway with no problem, and after that it was easy to find the right exit and follow the directions I had memorized in February of "left at the light, then right, right, right." I got a little surprise when I came up to the first right turn. Straight ahead, I could see the St. Lawrence River, which in February had been frozen over and invisible under the snow.

At Karine's place, we got right to work doing Gathering prep. When I opened my bag to unpack the pipe fittings I had brought for the art show displays, I discovered a little card saying that the T.S.A. had opened and checked my bag. Unfortunately, they didn't wrap the towel back around the boots for my costume before stuffing them back in the box with the pipe fittings, so the red paint on one of them had gotten all scuffed up. Karine got out some red acrylic paint and we tried to touch them up, but the color wasn't a very good match.

Knowing we had more important things to do, I set the problem aside and got to work instead on the special pieces we needed to make for the art show displays. Using Karine's tools, it took all of fifteen minutes to fabricate the six connectors we needed for the center posts of the display units. Setting those aside, we moved on to con badges and con packets. By the time Karine's husband Adam arrived home, we had nearly finished assembling all badges and we had stuck labels on all the con packet envelopes which would be stuffed the next day at the hotel.

For dinner, Karine made hamburgers and corn on the cob. Then we finished putting the lanyards on the badges and got everything packed up and ready to go for the next day. Around 11 pm, Karine downloaded the final PDF file of the program book Siryn had been working on nonstop for the previous week, and it was just before midnight that we headed off to the 24-hour copy shop at Bureau en Gros (the local equivalent of Staples) to place an order for 200 booklets. I pretty much stood there as Karine did all the talking since all the talking was in French, but I did make myself useful by running off some self-serve copies of the masquerade registration and walk-in registration forms.

It was closing in on 1 am by the time we got back to Karine's and decided to call it a night. I shared the futon in the living room with Peanut, a very friendly orange cat who is so big she has her own gravitational field. And that night I got what would turn out to be the longest stretch of uninterrupted sleep I would get until Monday night.

Greg responds...

Patrick, I do want to thank you for all the hard work you put in year after year for this fandom!

Response recorded on April 20, 2006